The following is a script to the youtube video below. Feel free to read or watch the review in either format.
Hello, I’m Kinglink and it’s time to talk about Outer Worlds, developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Private Division. Private Division may be a new company to most of you, it was to me, but it’s actually just Take 2’s indie arm of publishing.
Outer Worlds can simply be called Fallout but in space. It’s definitely a game similar to Fallout and that might have been the original pitch, but this time instead of a single open world, we have multiple planets and even zones on them, as well as a more futuristic weapon set. At least that’s the idea of the game.
I do want to thank Bryan M for suggesting I cover this game, so thank you and if anyone else has games they would like me to cover, feel free to mention them in the comments. As always if you enjoy the video consider subscribing and ringing that bell.
A quick disclosure. About a year ago, I met with Obsidian Entertainment as a part of a job interview. I did see a bit of this game, about 10 minutes while on-site, I didn’t end up getting that job, though I would not have been working on this project. That was just a couple of weeks after they were bought by Microsoft. That interview and the lack of that job have not changed my opinions on this game or the company , but I disclose it here so you can make the best judgment. On the with the review.
To do this game justice I will have to make some references to Fallout. But I’m going to try not to rely on that. Outer Worlds is a different game, and honestly, I think a mistake many people are making is trying to make this yet another binary choice in that you have to like either Fallout or Outer Worlds. Listen, Outer Worlds has more than enough binary choices on its own, so let’s instead look at Outer Worlds as a singular game, even if we do have to talk a little about Fallout.
Let’s start with the Graphics here. Outer Worlds is certainly interesting. There’s a lot of vibrant life, beautiful Flora is everywhere in the game, and there’s usually some Fauna around, granted I only saw a few hostile creatures in the game but there’s some variety there you will have a lot to see.
But Outer Worlds doesn’t seem to do much with this. What are these plants, what is each world really like? Much of the game looks similar. It’s a typical outdoor scenario with raiders and bandits, and perhaps way too many raiders and bandits for the worlds to actually contain.
Most maps are surrounded by mountains as well trapping you in a specific area, and of course, there are always limits to how far you can travel in any game, but here, much of the game feels closed in. If you compare this to something like Skyrim where people could and would scale mountains and the game allowed them to, there’s no comparison. The levels just feel a bit cramped here.
The one issue I had was there’s a lot of very similar worlds here. The worlds are colorful but in hindsight, very few stood out from the generic alien motif. Many just had the generic plants, and even when landing at different areas of a single world, the locations look the same. Even when flying other worlds, again there’s not a huge difference here.
Part of this might be thematic, as parts of the game show that almost every location is a prebuilt deployed from orbit, landing, and opening. However, this only explains the towns and not the surrounding areas.
There are some unique areas, the big one I enjoyed seeing is a giant ship called Groundbreaker. It’s almost a hub world, but it works well. But the locations in the game are a bit smaller than I wanted to see. There’s still exploration but much of it is a cramped area and you’ll pretty much stumble over most locations as you just walk from point to point.
Since this is sort of a Fallout game, we’re going to have a character creator but I found this lacking a bit. There are not many options to choose from when deciding what your character looks like. I found a character I liked the look of and went with it, but without voice acting, the experience feels off. Every other character in the game is voice acted which is appreciated but your character is silent for the entire game. Even your companions will speak up but you are somehow mute for the conversations.
The character in the game looks great, but one thing you’ll start to notice is that they always look at the camera in conversations. Fallout 4 was much better about this, I know these are two different games, with Fallout 4 being Bethesda’s third game since Oblivion which also had this issue. I accept that but the conversations here feel like they are something out of Fallout 1 or 2. This is just the same tech we’ve had for a very long time, and it feels dated.
Overall graphically, the game is acceptable. It’s just not always interesting. The fresh world you find yourself on at first is good but before long it’s the only world you find yourself on and the game feels a bit dull. Even when you find a new world, it doesn’t have the feeling of exciting discovery, but just a new map.
With that said, let’s talk story, and … this is where I have a serious problem with Outer Worlds.
The game starts with you in a cryosleep on the ship Hope with your ship going to Halcyon. This is the only system entirely owned and operated by corporations. Of course, this means we’re going to get into discussions of corporations in the game and that can be interesting. Sadly, Outer World has only one discussion about corporations.
On our first planet, we talk about a corporation that forces people to work to make cans of Saltuna. It’s a morality play though. The Corporation is evil. If you get sick, it’s not because of germs or anything it’s because YOU are weak. You are lazy, you are nothing. The corporation is everything.
Some people desert and the corporation ends up wanting you to divert power from these people. But they send you to tell them this and have them come join the corporation. This is only done to give you a chance to side with them too.
At the end of the mission, you’re going to have to choose between the kindly old deserter or the… rather dickish overseer. Honestly, it’s not a choice, it’s clear where the game wants you to go. But wait, Outer Worlds has a last-minute plea.
Your companion, Parvati, will make a plea and tell you how great the corporation is. But it comes too late, and it’s so poorly written, I couldn’t accept it. Power to the Deserters.
You can, of course, make your own choice here, no judgments, and we get off-world either way and get to see the next big story.
This is the problem though, the next world will have the same story. Evil Corporation and plucky young idealistic non-corporation people. Everywhere you go it’s framed in this exact way, and you can always make a different choice for each one. The problem is that one side eats babies, figuratively, of course. You know the other is often morally grey, but it becomes a Hitler comparison. One side is saying Sieg Heil, so it doesn’t matter what the other side’s issue is, it’s never that bad.
But what doesn’t work in this is that the corporations aren’t well run, they aren’t profiteering, they aren’t malicious because of a bottom line, instead, they’re malicious because they have become caricatures of corporations. They are Chaotic Evil but Chaotic Evil can work as a character, but here they are corporations, they should be lawful evil. Instead, they’re just a bunch of … assholes, to be honest.
This is the evil of Momcorp from Futurama. It’s funny for a laugh, especially when they do something absurd, but this isn’t a humor show, where a nameless company does something outside of the story. This is the core of the story for a majority of the game over at least ten hours.
Every corporation is like this. There’s not an altruistic company or even one fighting against the evil. There are not even discussions of unions, riots or anything, it’s just a mindless bleak dystopia.
The thing is I don’t hate the idea of games being an anti-corporation. Just to list some of the games that do this well, Final Fantasy VII with Shinra, Resident Evil and Umbrella Corp, Fallout with VaultTech, Bioshock with Andrew Ryan, and even the ludicrous one that I just mentioned in Sunset Overdrive.
Most of those games don’t focus on this topic as the only thing they want to say, here it’s the main focus of the story and it’s just not done well for it to be the only thing the game seems to want to talk about. That’s why I have such a big issue, it’s a single note which could be in a symphony but it’s the same note over and over.
With all that said, the writing in Outer Worlds isn’t bad, it’s the topic matter that I take issue with. I love it when Outer Worlds can delve into other areas outside of corporations because there are good moments here. One of my favorites is this, where I’m telling a computer I’m not her captain, but the computer is getting me to accept the role as captain.
At the same time, the game becomes a bit predictable. Multiple times in the story you’re told to go meet someone. And when you do you’ll have to do a quest for them because that’s how this game goes. Sometimes it’s even going to meet someone else, who then will give you even more quests.
Besides, many choices are binary, and you are forced to see both sides. Similar to our first quest, you go see the man in charge of the town, and then you’ll be told to go talk to the other side. There’s not a discovery of other options on these quests, you’re given very clear and well-defined choices. Do you turn the knob to the right or left?
At the end of the game, you do get the typical Fallout cutscene ending but each scene that makes up the cutscene is based on a single choice. Did I side with company A or group B, it’s sad there’s not a deeper or more interesting decision tree here.
The game does allow you to play against the main story. The person who wakes you from your slumber is a very wanted man. In most games that’s it, and you can’t try to turn him in, but not so in Outer Worlds. You can go and try to turn him in and side with the corporations.
But even if you try to do this, you’re stuck doing those fetch quests. You literally are telling people you want to turn in a guy who is wanted on multiple planets, but first, you have to prove yourself to the corporation like getting a seal for this guy. He apparently sold it. Like I said, incompetent chaotic evil corporations.
And this quest is almost identical to the quest you have to do for the normal main quest, get a ton of money. If you continue on that quest, it just produces many more fetch quests.
And to go against the main character is to go and side with groups that seems to act as evil as possible. The corporations are so damn evil I don’t understand why you would side with them in the first place. That’s not good writing because it’s not that they’re a little worse than the other side, but they’re made out to be the worst choice ever. So yes you can choose them if you’re evil.
I think I’ve made my issues with the story and writing here, so let’s move on to the gameplay, but as we do that, I want to talk about the quests a bit more because they encompass both parts.
Many quest in the game are interesting like our original quest, but what’s better is there’s a decent amount of ways to talk yourself out of them. You might have to go to a facility and fight your way through enemies, but you could also use your science ability or your medical knowledge to come up with a better solution.
I love it when these options come up because it’s more interesting than the fight, and we’ll talk about that combat in a bit. But many quests are required. Gladys, a black market dealer wants 10k for a navkey you need. I tried to find some way to steal the navkey or talk her into giving the key to me, but I couldn’t.
Later on, there’s an annoying mission where the player has to go to two factions, this is a major decision in the game, so I won’t get too into it. But you end up having to go and complete two missions per faction so that you can go back to the main character, who can send a message for you… which completed the next leg, and you go back to another person.
The point I need to make here is both quests from both factions, so four quests in total require the player to do mini combat missions. The ability to talk your way out of quests is quite limited. You’re only able to talk your way out of specific quests and otherwise, you have to get involved in the non-dialogue based gameplay.
When the game does have you talk your way out of quests it is always skill-based. If you have a high enough dialogue skill or technical skill you pass, if you don’t, you’ll have to do the quest the way they game expected you to. I would have loved to see an actual dialogue tree with ways to talk your way out of these quests, but that’s something most Fallout based games lack. It’s always a question of if your skill is high enough.
So let’s talk about that combat experience because you will have to shoot something before long, or bludgeon them to death. I played about half the game trying to make the controller work. If you don’t know, I tend to use a steam controller that’s mapped to use two control sticks. I couldn’t seem to make it work. There’s just a feeling that you need a level of precision that the controller never seems to reach. A big piece is a game doesn’t seem to auto-aim that much and that would have made it a better experience.
Instead, when I switched to mouse and keyboard I was able to nail almost every shot I wanted. While the game still has a real difficulty to it, I started to wonder about console players. If you’re on the console and only can use the controller, I honestly think the experience is going to be quite a bit worse.
You do still have a VATS type system, called Tactical Time Dilation, but it becomes a requirement on the controller when it’s optional on mouse and keyboard and that seems wrong. Some simple level of aim assist here would have been appreciated for controller users.
I struggled quite a bit but the more I read online the more I realized how varied your experience is based on your skill loadout. I went heavier in the dialogue-based skills which aren’t great for combat, but there are tons here.
If you invest in gunplay skills, you actually can activate effects for shooting enemies in their limbs when using that TTD, the tactical time dilation. You also have companions who have bonus abilities, again that only works if you pay enough into leadership, and while the levels to start using these skills are low, you’re going to have to become a jack of all skills, master of none.
The dialogue skills are probably the least important but the most interesting to select. I honestly think it’s almost like it’s an additional hard mode, and this is something I found out after researching which I do on these games after finishing.
Of course, your weapons in the game will also matter and early on you don’t have many choices, but in the early game, the enemies sometimes get heavy armor and this becomes a major struggle against those early weapons. It creates variable combat that is kind of uneven for a while.
I think there’s a special place in hell for the person who decided to throw so many robotic enemies with their heavy armor plating so early at the player. The game tells you to use electric weapons, which I didn’t have at the time, and maybe there’s some way to get those weapons but this is just a frustrating opening hour for the game.
Eventually, you find good armor, good guns, and when you eventually find a plasma weapon, the combat changes from challenging at times, to mundane. Even robots can’t stand against your plasma weapon and you start mowing down enemies. It becomes routine, and that’s a shame.
The loot in the Outer Worlds doesn’t help much. You mostly will find weapons, and there’s a ton of drugs and stat items but unless you play at the higher difficulties you probably won’t need them, though they will give you a nice boost. Eventually the loot changes, and you start earning tier 2 weapon which just jacks your damage up even higher and from there, it’s just a game of finding the highest DPS. This happens late in the game, but it’s still not exciting to loot so many of the same gun.
You’ll mostly be looting huge areas and you’ll pick up everything hoping you’ll have a use for it. The same will be true for stealing. You do have things marked as owned, so you’ll be stealing but there’s not a penalty I found for theft. If someone sees you they might fight you, but you can usually pay them off, or intimidate them without a challenge.
Stealth in Outer Worlds is lackluster. You walk into secure areas that are clearly marked, and if you have the right ID card you can pretty much just walk where you want. If you run out of “stealth juice” I don’t even know what they call it in-game, Enemies will approach you on sight, but only to give you a couple of easy dialogue checks you can talk your way out of. You can even do this three times but the checks are so easy, and these stealth areas are so small, you will never be challenged by them.
As long as you find the ID cards, which are located right outside most of these stealth areas.
If you’re a fan of stealth though, you’re probably not going to like this, it’s just too simplistic for anyone accustomed to how stealth is in any of these games.
There’s also a setup with flaws, which offer perk points. I don’t want to go too deep with Outer Worlds and I have covered many of the skills already here, but I can honestly say the perk system was a little underwhelming. In Fallout, there’s almost always a couple of series of perks that I found interesting. Here, I waited until level six-ish to assign my first perk, there just wasn’t anything I felt strongly about, and thus I didn’t buy into the Flaw system, which essentially says if you take some negatives, you’ll get extra perks. Interesting idea, but not worth the investment.
That’s true about several systems in Outer Worlds and it’s a shame. You know I had a thought as I wrote the script for this video. There’s a lot of interesting stuff that happens, but the biggest and most interesting moments all happen in the first hour. Edgewater is a rather interesting and pretty solid area. It’s well written, it’s fresh, and it looks great.
But if someone was to remove Edgewater, they’d be removing one of the best parts of Outer Worlds. I think so much effort went into making Edgewater an amazing opening, they forgot to make the rest of the game live up to it. The best moral choices are in Edgewater, the best characters are there. The rest of the game seems almost rushed or lacking what Edgewater sets up for the game, and that’s a shame because it means the Outer Worlds is strongest in the first hour of gameplay.
At the same time, I’m sure my comparisons to Fallout have rankled some fans. I know Obsidian has said that they don’t have the massive budget for this game, and they’re a small indie developer now and want to be viewed as one. That’s a great story. Let’s ignore the size and scope of Take 2, the company who makes the 2k sports game, and Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption.
The issue I have with the “we’re a small studio.” is that even if they don’t have a budget for it, they’re still charging 60 dollars like all AAA games. When Hellblade came out and Ninja Theory wanted to be considered an AA game they charged 40 bucks, but here, if they don’t want to be compared to the big titles, they need to charge less. And just to be clear, the prices are fine, 60 bucks is what people pay for games, but you can’t play the “We are a smaller scale game” and still charge the same price as everyone else.
Now, some people will directly compare this game to Fallout 76, and Fallout 4, and those comparisons are valid. It’s a much better game than 76, and I think it’s better than Fallout at least in a lot of ways. As much as I wanted to enjoy Boston in Fallout 4, it wasn’t as great as it could have been.
But the thing is, people tout Outer Worlds as some great game because it beats two… arguable weak games. Just because there are not many amazing contenders to the crown, you don’t just crown the first choice. Outer Worlds might be the best “Fallout-esque game” but it has issues, and it’s not a perfect experience. It’s lacking a lot of polish that fans should expect, the story isn’t at the level that Obsidian is worthy of, and the experience just isn’t that amazing.
If you like Fallout New Vegas, go play that again, then if you want more, play this, and feel free to tell me if Outer Worlds is anywhere near as good. In my opinion. It’s really not.
I give Outer Worlds a
That’s not a bad score, but it’s not an amazing one either, and I think that’s where Outer Worlds lies. It’s a solid game, and I hope we see a more polished sequel or a new game.
I finished the game around 15 hours, I know there’s a lot of variety in time spent in the game. But I’ve heard some early reviewers claiming 40 hours of content. That’s possible for multiple playthroughs or maybe absolute completionists but this game will take you under 20 hours most likely.
That’s Outer Worlds. I did play that game on Epic Games Launcher, I have at least two more games to talk about from that store, and I might talk a little more about it as a launcher when I finish that.
Thanks for watching that, I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, make sure you subscribe and click that bell to be notified when I post something else. Feel free to share the video it’ll help grow the channel.
I honestly don’t have videos to recommend here, so I’m going to go with Dealer’s Choice and see what Youtube decides to show you.
Until next time, I’m Kinglink and thanks for watching